In To Kill a Mockingbird, what technique is used in this quote and how is that shown? After numerous calls, much pleading, and a letter, Dill finally receives permission to remain in Maycomb....

In To Kill a Mockingbird, what technique is used in this quote and how is that shown?

After numerous calls, much pleading, and a letter, Dill finally receives permission to remain in Maycomb. Scout says that they only had "a week of peace together.... A nightmare was upon us."

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mrwickline's profile pic

mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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Harper Lee employs the literary device known as “foreshadowing.”  Foreshadowing hints at future events that happen later on in the novel. When Scout says, “A nightmare was upon us,” Lee is hinting at an ominous future event. Nightmares create a gloomy atmosphere and are synonymous with bad omens in literature.  The menacing event that takes place later in Chapter 15 occurs when Mr. Cunningham and the Old Sarum crew attempt to lynch Tom Robinson at the Maycomb County jail house. Fortunately, Atticus is waiting outside Robinson’s cell and Mr. Cunningham has a change of heart when Scout intervenes. Harper Lee also employs a figure of speech known as a metaphor. Metaphors are hidden comparisons between two different things which share similar characteristics. The “nightmare” is a metaphor for an unpleasant event. Lee uses these literary techniques to hint at the future and create an atmosphere in the novel.

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readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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This is a good question. This text moves quickly. I would say that there is something called asyndeton, that is, the lack of conjunctions in a series of words or phrases. An example of this would be the famous words of Caesar: "Veni, Vidi, Vici," which translates into "I came, I saw, I conquered."

Notice that there are no connectives between the words:

  • "After numerous calls" and "much pleading." 
  • "a week of peace together" and "A nightmare was upon us." 

Now as for what asyndeton accomplishes. One of the main purposes of asyndeton makes a text move quickly. This section accomplishes this. These two sentences feel rushed, as if there was a lot of excitement. From this perspective, the form matches the content. 

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